OK American League… it is time to step up in 2012

So here we are in early May.
It is still early in the season and a lot can happen. But a whole month has transpired in the 2012 campaign and some interesting developments have occurred that should make some dormant teams wake up.

The Angels? One month in, they stink. Sure any team can have a lousy month. But save for Jered Weaver’s perfect game and Torri Hunter and Kendrys Morales’ performance, there has been nothing much to cheer for near Disneyland. Plus I am STILL tied with Albert Pujols for home runs.

The Red Sox? They look like a classic “Win 6 and lose 6” team with inconsistent pitching and a bullpen that will drive New England bonkers all year.

The Yankees? Well they are about to find out how long they can survive with a shake rotation and inconsistent offense without the 9th inning being automatic. The specter of Mariano Rivera closing out the 9th made up for a lot of inconsistencies. They won the 2005 AL East basically by saying “Just club the opposition to death and hand Mariano a lead.” This year it has been “OK, the rotation hasn’t been good, but scratch a lead together and make sure Mariano has a lead.” This organization and fan base hasn’t dealt with the 9th inning being anything but a lock since the strike (and back then, they were not a presumptive playoff participant.)

So what does this mean?
That means three teams that are regular playoff contenders are, to be extra ordinarily generous, shaky.

Throw in the fact that the Tigers, who just about everyone picked to win the AL Central, is off to a .500 start (they’ll recover), and the American League could be in as much in flux as the unpredictable National League.

The Rays and the Rangers are making their cases for best teams in the league. And you’d think that winning back to back pennants would have made the Rangers more of favorite going into this season.

But there are five playoff spots this year and the chances of the Yankees, Angels AND Red Sox all missing the post season is not outlandish.

If there is any year a team like the Orioles or Blue Jays to have that elusive October cameo, it is this year. If any season could have the Indians sneak in or maybe the A’s spit in the face of their detractors, it is this year.

In other words, take a close look at Memorial Day. If Baltimore, Toronto, Oakland or Cleveland are still at or near the top of their standings or close to the Wild Card by then, it would behoove them to buckle down.

Maybe this is the year they hold onto their veterans and fill a hole or two.

The Goliaths of the League have all stubbed their toes and are more vulnerable than anyone could have predicted. 

For all of you who have complained that the Red Sox and Yankees win too much and you can just buy a pennant… the season you’ve been waiting for may have arrived.

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The Marlins are having the ugliest winning streak ever

Back on April 28, I wrote a blog post about how my two World Series picks looked kind of shaky.
The Angels looked bad and the Marlins were flopping on the deck.

They finished April losing 8 of 9, had the Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro lunacy and the excitement seemed to have died off for the new ballpark.

It may be entertaining for the Showtime series being made about the Marlins, but it looked like they were going to be a bust.

I had stayed up late to watch a few Miami games recently. I saw the end of an extra inning game between the Giants and Marlins and another between the Padres and Marlins.

Both were ugly games for Miami. Heath Bell imploded on May 2 and the Giants rallied to tie the game and send into extra innings.

And last night, Bell was even worse and the Padres came back to tie it.

Both times the home crowd went nuts and Miami seemed crushed.

But an interesting thing happened in both of those games.
The Marlins won. The other team NEVER got that final hit.

The Giants had the winning run at second with one out and stranded him.

Last night the Marlins jumped out to a 5-0 first inning lead and blew it. They took another lead into the 9th, but Heath Bell lost it and San Diego had the winning run on second with nobody out and on third with one out.

And in the 11th, San Diego had a runner on second with one out but couldn’t score.

Both times the Marlins won.

In fact in 4 of the last 5 games, the Marlins had a chance to lose the game. A bases loaded double play by Buster Posey in the 8th inning of the May 1 game prevented the Giants from winning. Two days later, the Marlins won even though the Giants put the winning run at the plate.

A bounce here and there and the Marlins would have lost 12 of 13 games.

In fact, and I didn’t realize this until a second, but the Marlins are on a 5 game winning streak.
I have no recollection of a winning streak this long where the team SEEMS like they are losing.

Maybe this is why my pick of the Marlins seems like a smart one.
They will eventually get hot. Mark Buehrle pitched a desperately needed complete game to save the bullpen.

If they can win like this when they are NOT feeling good, imagine when they actually get into a groove.

Either way, Showtime is following the correct team this year!

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